Scientists at Lancaster University in the UK have announced that they have developed a new smart testing device for coronavirus. The testing device incorporates artificial intelligence, image processing, molecular virology, and applied technologies to create an innovative device that can detect COVID-19. The test takes only 30 minutes to run using an intelligent smartphone app.
The team says that the science behind the device has been tested in the Philippines, where it was used to search for viral infections in chicken populations. The team was able to get the device to detect COVID-19 in humans and is currently talking with backers in an attempt to get the device mass-produced as quickly as possible.
The scientists say the system is currently capable of performing diagnostics at any location with minimal training. Researchers believe that the device could be operated by ambulatory care professionals, nurses, and biomedical scientists. It would also allow people in self-isolation to test themselves and enable healthcare workers to screen patients to help slow the spread of the pandemic.
When the researchers on the team say that with the access to multiple genomes of SARS-CoV-2, they can develop a reliable molecular assay in a week and have them up and running on the device 3 to 4 weeks. The team says that it’s confident the device will respond well and that they need industrial partners to come on board quickly because the device will have “a huge impact on the population at large.”
The test device is battery-operated and handheld, it links to a smartphone and costs about £100 per device. The test works by taking nasal or throat swab that is placed in the device, and within 30 minutes, it can determine if the person has COVID-19 with no need for samples to go to the laboratory. A single device can test up to six people at once and costs around £4 per person.